As nasal decongestants available OTC and as prescription formulations, nasal sprays are used extensively for alleviating various conditions. The liquid/aerosolized medication is effective in offering relief from various symptoms. However, a large number of patients remain unaware about the best way to use the sprays. Consequently, the efficacy of the contents of the spray are reduced as the medication delivery mechanism plays an important role. Here are simple tips on how to use nasal spray that will help users get the desired effectiveness, and eliminate the possibility of side effects from wrong usage.

Purpose of nasal sprays

Before we look at how to use nasal spray, here is a look at the purpose of the sprays. The nose discharges functions such as filtering, and moisturizing the air that is inhaled. A healthy nose is one that is not dry with the right amount of mucus flowing within, to prevent sinus infections. This makes moisture extremely important for a healthy nose. The mucus membranes in the nose protect the individual by producing more mucus, as a response to allergies and viruses.

When the nasal secretion turns dry, there is every possibility of pain, and congestion in the nose. As a result, this can force the patient to breathe through the mouth, which may aggravate asthmatic or bronchitis conditions. As the nose is connected to the middle ear, there is also the possibility of an ear infection. Nasal sprays help to decongest the passage which in turn helps to keep the nose moist and warm. However, it all depends on the manner in which the nasal spray is used.

Types of nasal sprays

It is now time to look at the types of nasal sprays. Saline nasal sprays are intended to reduce the thickness of secretions in the nose, which in turn helps manage the irritation of particles and germs. These nasal sprays are available over the counter and are great in alleviating various conditions. Saline nasal sprays help to move the mucus and this flushes the germs and allergens in the nose, which helps pre-empt inflammation. These sprays are typically used during winter, when the cold, dry air can result in sore nose and a stinging sensation.

The second category of nasal sprays are the decongestant types that are different from saline nose sprays. Decongestants are not to be used continuously for a long term, as this can result in congestion returning when the effects of the spray wear off. In other words, the reason for using the spray will repeat itself, once the decongestants are stopped. This only occurs when the sprays are used repetitively throughout the day for a long time. The sprays are meant to be used only when necessary and not frequently.

Decongestant sprays work by shrinking blood vessels in the nose, and when its use is above the recommended frequency, it ends up as rhinitis medicamentosa, which is the term for chronic nasal congestion. This arises due to excessive use of the spray. When the blood vessels shrink, it necessitates the use of saline nasal sprays or steroids. Decongestants and saline nasal sprays are a good choice for relief from cold/sinus, in addition to being used by flyers for relief in pressurized cabins. While the products are relatively safe, and easily available OTC, it is essential to know how to use nasal spray for best results. This will also prevent irritation and possible side effects.

How to use nasal spray – the need to position it rightly

The most important factor when using the nasal spray is to position it correctly. Without the right position, the contents are not delivered, and this could also result in experiencing discomfort as the contents are not directed at the targeted area. Barring a few exceptions, nasal sprays are self-administered, and this makes it necessary to learn how to use nasal spray. Patients who use nasal sprays need to adopt the right position recommended by experts. The patient needs to slightly tilt the head forward, in a manner so as to get the nose aligned with the toes. For spraying into the left nostril, it is necessary to use the right hand – this will ensure that there is more control in the manner in which the contents are directed inside. Similarly, for spraying into the right nostril, it is necessary to use the left hand for greater control.

What happens when the spray is not directed correctly?

There are two different effects as a result of wrong usage of the nasal spray. The first is the reduced effectiveness of the contents of the nasal spray – the mechanism of action of the contents depends on its right administration. The second is the side effect from reaching a different part of the nose. When the contents are wrongly directed, it ends up moving down into the septum which can result in triggering irritation. Similarly, the medication can end up moving down the back of the throat, which can also cause irritation. This is precisely why it is necessary to get a better idea of how to use nasal spray correctly.

How to use nasal spray – the right sequence of use

The best method of using pump bottle nasal sprays are as given below. Before using the spray, it is important to carry out a little priming procedure on the spray. Most sprays will deliver a thick dispensations of the contents if not primed. Pump the spray a couple of times, with the nozzle pointed away from you. After a few rapid pumps, the nozzle starts delivering a fine mist of the liquid medication. This makes it ready for use, and is called priming.

#1 Clear the nose gently, by blowing away the mucus in the nasal passage. This needs to be done with care, and not by using excessive force or pressure to blow out the nose.

#2 The contents of the bottle need to be shaken properly, following which the cap needs to be removed.

#3 Tilt head forward slightly to get the nose and the toes aligned. Do not lean the head forward, but slightly tilt it to get the right angle for pumping/spraying.

#4 The bottle needs to be held in a manner so that the thumb is at the bottom, while the middle and index fingers are on top of the bottle. This will give greater control over the pumping action and in directing the contents.

#5 Block one nostril and insert the tip of the spray into the open nostril. It is not necessary to insert the nostril fully, but only the tip.

#6 Remember to use the opposite hand when spraying. For instance, when you need to spray into the right nostril, use the left hand and vice versa.

#7 Gently squeeze the contents into the nostril and inhale at the same time to get the contents into the passageway.

#8 Block the nostril and repeat the process in the other nostril.

#9 Never blow out your nose immediately after spraying the contents. When you blow out your nose, the liquid medication will end up being expelled from the nose, without delivering any desired relief.

Mistakes that you need to avoid when using a nasal spray

Now that you have an idea of how to use nasal spray, it is time to look at the most common mistakes of individuals when using the spray. The most common mistakes are positioning of the head, the use of the same hand/nostril combination and the blowing out the nose after spraying. Get your head in the right position by gently tilting the head forward, use the opposite hand when directing a mist of spray into each nostril, and never blow your nose out immediately after spraying the contents inside your nose. These are the common mistakes that you need to avoid when using a nasal spray.

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